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In the history of the steelband, which one will you say is the greatest of all times? [in terms of accomplishments]

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Not sure how this turned into a debate if accomplishments is the criteria....I will just drop this small sample and leave: The guitar pan, playing pan with 2 sticks, The Bomb, Woman on the Bass, Classical Jewels 1-11, Carnival Band of the Year 2014. Do I really need to say more??

Yes. You have to mention 'Curry Tabanca'!

Might be a hard question, but the answer is quite easy. My vote goes to Desperadoes, for they have collected the most accolades among our top band, be it appearances at Royal Albert Hall, Carnegie Hall, large concerts in Africa, Asia and Europe. Appeared in and won the most Panorama finals, won Music Festivals many times. Name it, Despers has been there and done that! Desperadoes is the GRATEST EVER! 

Sorry to say they are all great. The men who created this instrument are the greatest of all times. This does not point to the question above, but this is my opinion.


Who is the Greatest is a tough proposition. Bugs in his reply to Cecil established very crucial criteria e.g.longevity,community impact, financial stability, international recognition, successes in competitions etc. etc. With these parameters let me indicate the records of Trinidad All Stars:

1. The first recording of Pan ( i.e. three-note tenor kettles) in Feb 1940 backing up Roaring Lion singing 'Lion O'

2. The first band to play "melody-pans" (four-note) ping-pongs - V-J Day 1945.

3. The first band to place rubber on sticks i.e. initially to protect the sticks from fraying at the edges, this worked well and provided an additional plus i.e. enhanced tonal quality.

4. The first band to COLLECTIVELY play with two-sticks.

5. The first to create the integrated Steel Orchestra i.e. tenors,altos,guitar pans and basses i.e.the work of Neville Jules. Also Jules was the first to introduce the "tenor-bass" for the 1954 Festival

6. The first band to play an "OWN TUNE" i.e. "East Dry River Drive" composed by Jules.

7.The first band to use "skins" in the rhythm section- "congas" on the road, "bongos" for festival.

8. The first band to put a CONDUCTOR on stage (1952) . Hugh Alexander (Joe Bell) walked on stage, knocked the side of a Pan and the entire 12 member band bowed to the audience. Today that is standard behaviour.

9. The first to introduce the BOMB i.e."the calypsorising of European Classics".

10. The first band to initiate the inviting of reps from other bands to their yard( Upstairs Nagib) for formal socialisation. Done by Leroy Boldon, the then Secretary of All Stars,now Dr. Leroy Boldon of Los Angeles, and uncle of Ato Boldon.

11. The band that has the most WINS in competitions across the board i.e. 8 Panoramas, 7 Festivals, numerous Best Beating Band on the road for carnival, over  26 Bomb victories- most Carnivals there are 3-4 Bomb competitions throughout the City and ALLStars will do a clean sweep, including 2-Hat-tricks.

12. Classical Jewels Concerts, every two years - from 1974, nine Concerts , all sold out. The Millennium Series of Classical Jewels was launched in 2012. In 2014 Classical Jewels will be held again. There is no band anywhere with a wider classical repertoire than All Stars.

13.Ian Franklin posted the following about All Stars on WST on March1st, 2013: " Win the first Panorama Final in South (2007); Win first One Million Panorama Prize (2007);The first to defeat another arranger with his own composition - 2008, Silver Stars -Thunder Coming; The first to defeat and win Panorama performing another arranger's composition - 2011, Silver Stars- Showtime; Win the first and to date only 2 Million Panorama Prize; The only band to place in the TOP-THREE for the years 2007-2013;Win a total of SIX Million (2007-2013); Now holds the record in Panorama for 23 top-three placings..."

14.BAND OF THE YEAR FOR 2014- the result of a commitment to Mas, Calypso and Pan for 79 years.

Gentlemen, I rest my case.

Well said ,,Bukka Rennie . 

The correct answer to the question can only be given by one with an extensive knowledge of pan history , since most of us respond with emotion and personal favorites .

I must admit that I 'm not as knowledgeable as I would like to be ,and that is why I was reluctant to give a define answer to the question .

You are one of the few among us who possess such verifiable historical information , and your input is appreciated . 

Oh lord Bukka, you go kill dem?? Some of we have to walk through tong after you know? Lol! No need to even mention WOTB, 'We want more!!' in '93 or the 2 Pan in the 21st Century victories? Discipline, Dedication, Magnificence!

Ladies and gents, the question has been answered.

It would be interesting to read the views of CECIL who posed the  thought provoking question.


Anyone could ask a thought provoking question, it does not mean they have the answer and I did not, what I have is an opinion and it was not based on research just what I remembered.

The idea for this post came to me as we were playing pan trivia over the weekend, I remembered Tony Williams and his band PanAm North Stars and the contribution they made to the steelband but they off the scene for over fifty years and most of what the other bands are judge on is over the last fifty years so that over ruled my choice.

The favorite for  honors looked like Despers, until Bukka Rennie stepped in.

You see why I like WST?

Look at the amount of information I get from reading through just one discussion!


I agree, I never knew that All Stars was the first to play their "OWN TUNE"

Thank you Bukka Rennie well put. There are so many other attributes that can be added, for example the number of tours made by Trinidad All Stars---.Leon "Smooth" Edwards our present Panorama arranger being Home Grown..--The Arranger "Rudy Wells"  of our first Panorama win playing "Rainorama."He was also Home grown.--.Our present arranger of our Bomb tunes for the Road,--Terry Dumas, also home grown.There are a number of top class Players, Arrangers and Composers that were developed by Trinidad All Stars, just to name a few--Clive Telemarque, Duane Gulston,Yohan Popwell, Mia Gormandy. I can go on and on but before I end,I must mention the winning of "Peoples Choice" on numerous occasions,also. I must mention SOCA BY THE RIVER an accomplishment that has not and probably cannot be matched by any other Steelband in the World.

                                                 Hamilton "Web" Alexander


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